We sailed from Marseille on a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity, on the Millennium. A business meeting in Dublin caused us to miss the first day of the cruise from Barcelona, but since that was also where the cruise ended, we knew we would see it anyway. Marseille – taxi from airport 40 euros. Arrived in the rain, so tired that we decided to sleep the day away rather than visit Marseilles or nearby Provence.
Dinner companions included a couple from Northern Ireland, a couple from Holland Park in London and another from Miami. Traveling with my best friend was an asset as we moved around the table nightly to talk to the others at the table.
Food. The first night, I was disappointed by the food. Celebrity has such a fine reputation for food that I was expecting more. My cruising experience is not vast to this point, but I was expecting it to be better than Holland America, and it was not. On our first formal night there were only 6 of us rather than 8, and the food was excellent. After a LONG day in Rome, we opted for the buffet dinner, which was fine and filling, but not memorable by any stretch of the imagination. Lunches on board were the usual salads, hot meals, hamburgers and pizza, which the very popular ice cream bar.
Spa: The first day on board, we signed up for everything for our day at sea – classes, lectures, and a pedicure. It was excellent. However, being a day at sea, the only spa appointment to be had was at 8AM, and that early start required that I take a nap (oh the luxury of cruises) late morning to recoup. Our day at sea was event filled, from pedicures to a shopping lecture to an art auction, ribbon rose making, lunch, spa lectures, history lectures and more. We had so many things on our agenda that we missed our Cruise Critic meeting and a few other things as well. Simply too much to do.
Our ports: Villefranche, the port for Nice was alluring, with its typical Cote d Azur landscape of seafront restaurants with their awnings blowing in the breeze, ochre and saffron colored houses stretching up the hillside, citadel and gardens. The charming small town of Villefranche easily occupied us for an afternoon, but fellow travelers marveled at the beautiful hilltop village of Eze, and the ease of taking the train to Monaco or to Nice and Cannes. In half an hour and only for a few euros, you are in the center of Cannes or Monaco.
For Rome, our port was Civitavecchia, well worth a miss on a Sunday. The train to Rome is about an hour and a half from there, but the infrequent train schedule on a Sunday (check Trentitalia before you leave), caused us to wait an hour for the train, and arrive in Rome too late for our appointment at the Villa Borghese, which has Rome’s premier collection of masterpieces, including works by Titian, Caravaggio and Raphael.. In any event, by friend was able to talk our way into the fabulous art collection at that late hour, and for free as well. It was raining when we came out, a reason to stay in the museum café and have an overpriced (though typical for Rome) lunch before making our way to St. Peter’s. We had both visited previously, so ours was just a quick visit to oogle some of the things we had missed on other occasions.
Afterwards, a taxi to the train station had us arrive, panting, just in time for our train back to the port. A misunderstanding meant that we did not have tickets, and were fined for not having a ticket when boarding, but the whole trip was worth the expense.
Mykonos We docked at 1PM, and took the shuttle to the town for $10 each. We walked around the harbor, mainly browsing the shops, but also seeing the local church and the Catholic church, the windmills, Little Venice, and walking the winding alleyways with the whitewashed houses, agean blue doors and purple bouganvilla. Back on board, the Greek dancers brought on board made the atmosphere more special. We took a shore excursion.
Ephesus – the highlight of the trip. An unusually early departure 715Am for a full day tour that included Mary’s House, Ephesus, a museum, and St John’s Church. Marys houses was the most solemn and serene place of the day. In the cool air of morning scented by what I believe were laurel trees, it was wonderful. The trek through Ephesus, by contrast was out in the blazing sun (even in May), but was the highlight of our cruise. It was most impressive – from the men’s latrine, the library, to the amphitheatre, and more. The museum had many mosaics and statues from the area. St. John’s church was interesting as well. I did not care for the rug store we were shown at the end. The vendors in all shops were TOO aggressive.
A lazy day at sea followed, with lectures, art auction, theater, films and more. Palermo. My choice was to give it a miss, and none of the shore excursions sounded interesting. We did explore on pour own, during siesta, when the shops were closed. It was a mistake – I have never seen a dirtier, less friendly city. We walked to the cathedral and the opera house. I should have stayed on board.
Barcelona: Our cruise ended in Barcelona. We chose a late departure from the ship, and took a taxi to the train station. We were able to store our luggage in lockers, and then take a hop on hop off tour of the city right outside the station. The train to the airport was simple and inexpensive, and easy walk to the terminals. The RENFE train service runs approximately every 30 mins to and from Barcelona airport to the city centre. Travel time approximately 25 minutes. You can catch the train from Estacio de Franca, Passeig de Gracia, or Barcelona Sants (otherwise known as Sants Estacion) The name of the stop you want for the airport is Aeropuerto.